Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

DABWAHA and other news

Don’t forget to vote. http://dabwaha.com/!!!

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The White House has come out with a strong statement in support of stricter copyright laws primarily focused on combatting live streaming. I understand that sports organizations are having a very difficult time with this.   Because of the money behind this endeavor (primarily funded by movie studios, record labels, the porn industry, and sports entities), this is a largely bi partisan issue.   I wouldn’t be surprised that we see stricter copyright laws including felony convictions of those involved in web streaming of sporting events or pornography.   Of course, the by product of these stricter copyright laws will likely result in a stifling of creativity but I’ve become sanguine about this.   I figure that the copyright laws have to become so strict as to foment revolt much like what is happening in the patent arena.   In the meantime, I await the opportunity to start copyrighting ideas so I can start my litigation business of suing copyright infringers for using my ideas. I plan to copyright angel books, demon books, marriages of convenience, bands of brothers (whether human or paranormal), second chance lovers, and any other trope I can think of. (These last two sentences are snark but it is what goes on currently in the patent world).

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Thanks to Laura V and Sarah T, comes this article in the Guardian UK about how publishers are losing a PR battle over ebooks, according to the author.   Sam Jordison states that the unpleasant whingeing of customers bleating about how prices are too high and that readers ignore the complications and costs of digitizing books. This is true. I don’t think readers pay much attention to the publishers’ costs or the rights’ issues when looking at whether they can actually buy a book or buy a book that the reader thinks is a fair price.   Jordison also points to the influx of $.99 self published books which drive a consumer’s perception about value and cost of a digital book.   Jordison is hopeful that Agency pricing will be deemed legal and publishers can return to the net book agreement of limiting discounts and establishing a price floor.

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Globe & Mail wonders whether   mid list authors are endangered by digital books.

An e-book market cluttered with the self-published but unedited, and a beleaguered professional publishing arena where only a few bestselling writers can make a living is a particularly unfriendly scenario for Canada, a nation that has produced few bestselling genre writers but many mid-list literary writers.

 

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Rich Adin over at The Digital Reader posts about the appalling lack of quality amongst self published books. Rich finds that the reviews out there on indie published books are sparse and unhelpful and that he has been burned too many times by poor quality work from Smashwords.   (Excerpts! use the Excerpt feature) Overall, though, I agree and I wondered as I read about 5 $.99 self published books whether existing traditionally published authors were actually hurting their brands by putting out shoddy work in order to take advantage of the self publishing bandwagon.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

26 Comments

  1. Christina B.
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 10:27:04

    Good luck to all dabwaha participants! I wasn’t able to enter my picks, but I’ll still be voting for my favorites–it’s such a fun contest this time of year. :)

  2. GrowlyCub
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 10:49:01

    I read the excerpt for a Smashword novella by an author who is also traditionally published and while the story was good and would have made me buy, the typos and grammar errors decided me against spending the money, even though it was 99 cents.

    I absolutely agree that in this case the Smashword offering definitely hurt the author brand. The lack of proof-reading looked lazy and made me feel disrespected as a reader.

  3. Karen
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 10:51:35

    Even though I like excerpts, I’ve seen cases where the quality of the excerpt does not match the quality of the book as a whole. I’ve mostly seen this in terms of character development – characters who seem well rounded and developed in the first three chapters become cardboard idiots in the rest of the book – but I could also see this happening with editing quality.

  4. Michelle W.
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 11:05:05

    Oh My–look at the battle between Courtney Milan & Sherry Thomas!! It is back and forth!! Go VOTE!!

  5. Sheryl Nantus
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 11:37:08

    Being Canadian, I got a hoot out of the G&M article.

    A few years ago I approached an agent with a good paranormal romance, set in Toronto. She wrote back that she loved it, but “there was no money in commercial fiction in Canada”.

    *chuckles*

    Canadians tend to strangle our own, I think. Which is why so many of us end up in the US.

    :P

  6. Kerry Allen
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 11:39:05

    @Karen “I've seen cases where the quality of the excerpt does not match the quality of the book as a whole.”

    That’s called First Fifty Page Syndrome. They’ve been polished to within an inch of their life for contests and partial submissions. Too often, the rest of the book never gets that treatment.

  7. cara
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 11:58:27

    Well, I was going to say something optimistic about crap eventually sinking while the quality stuff floats to the surface. But then I realized that despite myself, I still haven’t bothered with any self-published novels. Smaller indie-pubs? Absolutely. And the quality problem is there, too. But then, there have been some books under major publishers that I’ve read and, while the SPAG editing is decent, the story is utter crap. I’m a lot less forgiving about that (especially when I pay a higher price for it), than I am about a good plot that needs another round of polishing but cost me a couple bucks less.

    That said, as an aspiring writer, it does kind of boggle me to see this proliferation of stories that are a mess but have a price tag on them. Don’t these writers have any sense of pride? I’d be mortified. I AM mortified, just when I comment somewhere and have a grammatical or punctuation error. How can you (apparently) put so much work into a story and not want it to sparkle?

  8. JenM
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 12:08:11

    In a book costing $0.99, I don’t have high expectations going into it regarding the level of writing. However, I don’t think it’s too much to ask to expect the book to at least have been proofread. Honestly, I can only conclude that many self-pubbed authors are just plain lazy. Somehow, they seem to think that spellcheck will catch all errors. Hello, spellcheck won’t catch a word that is spelled correctly but is the wrong word for the situation. I can’t tell you how many Indie books I’ve read that use “lose” for “loose” or “their” instead of “there”. If you as an author can’t spell well enough to catch that, either find a proofreader who can, or get out of the marketplace. I know there will always be a couple of errors that slip through, but when you find 5 or 10+ in every chapter, that’s way over the top.

    I’m one of those readers who has the ability to immediately spot these types of errors just by scanning a page and I just get so frustrated by this. I’ve often thought of starting a proofreading business just to correct some of this and save other poor readers my frustration.

  9. Joanne
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 13:07:27

    @Kerry Allen: Absolutely. Rather like movie trailers that are often all you really need since the movie never lives up to the hype.

    I get sucked in often enough with those types of great excerpts — but never twice by the same author. If they’re looking for repeat buyers that trick only works once and I keep that publisher in mind when I’m shopping for something to read.

  10. cayenne
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 13:07:34

    @JenM, re error-spotting: so am I, and while they grate on me like claws on a chalkboard, I have a higher tolerance when they’re attached to something with a lower cost.

    What really drives me bazoo is when I see all those same pre-edit errors on the “professional” e-books – layout, font, spelling, etc. – that are fixed in the print version, but often are still in the e-book. If the publisher has put the effort into cleaning the text up for print, I don’t understand why they’re not using the final pre-press file of the print edition to create the e-book, especially if they’re charging the same $10 for the digital edition without incurring hard costs for paper & ink.

  11. Isobel Carr
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 13:09:05

    I was just helping a fantasy author find a copy editor for the book she wants to self-publish (Asian fantasy, and it’s REALLY good, but NY doesn’t think it will have a large enough audience). She was a bit daunted by the cost (looks to be in the low to mid four figures), but copy editing really isn’t a step you can skip and still expect to put out a quality product IMO.

  12. Keishon
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 14:24:10

    I’ve bypassed *many* ebooks that have grammar issues, typos and poor formatting. I guess the thinking behind it is if it’s 99 cents don’t expect quality work. How insulting.

  13. Keishon
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 14:26:10

    Added to that, I’d prefer to pay a little more than 99 cents or whatever is reasonable for a well put together book. Thank You.

  14. orannia
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 14:38:22

    Being in the time zone that I am, I need to check the DABWAHA voting more often, as I missed the first lot of voting :( However, the book I picked as the winner is still in…just! I really have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to book selection :)

  15. Christine M.
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 16:46:42

    @Isobel Carr: Asian fantasy sounds great! I hope I stumble upon this book once the author’s ready to publish it!

  16. Richard Adin
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 16:57:25

    Thanks for mentioning my article “The Missing Ingredient: Quality Control in Indie Books”, which you found at The Digital Reader. I just want you to know that The Digital Reader reprinted the article from my blog (with permission), which is found at An American Editor (www.americaneditor.wordpress.com). You and your readers might find other articles at my blog that The Digital Reader doesn’t reprint of interest, including a recent article on the author-editor relationship, “Symbiosis: The Authorial and Editorial Process” (http://americaneditor.wordpress.com/2011/03/14/symbiosis-the-authorial-and-editorial-process/).

  17. Angela James
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 20:02:24

    @GrowlyCub: Can I use your comment in a my presentation for authors on brand management? One of the points I stress in developing a trusted brand is delivering consistent quality product, and I’d love it if I could use your comment to highlight my point.

  18. Moriah Jovan
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 20:08:59

    @cayenne:

    I can't tell you how many Indie books I've read that use “lose” for “loose” or “their” instead of “there”.

    Actually, I’ve been seeing this more and more in published books EVERYWHERE by ALL the publishers, and it seems to be a disease that’s not going to be cured anytime soon.

  19. GrowlyCub
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 20:12:18

    @Angela James:

    Feel free. I’m still annoyed that I never got to read the rest of the story, but I just refuse to reward shoddy work. In this case it was all typos or small grammar issues that a beta reader could have fixed, which made it even more aggravating.

  20. Angela James
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 20:14:16

    Thank you so much!

  21. helen
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 21:37:09

    I have found Goodreads to be a great source for reviews on indie/self published books. I found Amanda Hocking, J.L. Bryan, Bettie Sharpe, Tess Oliver, S.L. Naeole, E.J. Stevens, Vicki Keire, and many other self published authors via Goodreads. I think there are many, many excellent self published authors, we just need gatekeepers. Readers who post reviews can be gatekeepers, as can bloggers, review websites etc. There are ways to separate the wheat from the chaff. I bought/found 30 new authors during read an e-book week and so far I’ve loved 4 of the 8 different authors I’ve read (I went back and bought all of their books that I could find), 2 were so so and 2 were terrible. Those are better results than I usually get with traditional publishing. Don’t give up on the indies!

  22. DS
    Mar 17, 2011 @ 08:14:04

    I generally don’t drop a grade for formatting errors and a few misplaced, misused words– say less than 5 in a novel although I mention the problems up front because I know they drive some readers nuts. Most of the indie books I have read have been in the C-B range but I have read more in historical fiction and suspense than romance.

    One thing I have noticed is authors who have previously published books under a pseudonym then republishing them in ebook form under their own name. I was reading a sample recently that seemed very familiar, then I realized I had read it a million years ago in one of the category lines. It was very dated and I don’t think the author had done anything to try to polish it up. And the price she was asking for it was $1.05 more than the original cost.

    Needless to say I didn’t get the warm fuzzies for this author.

  23. Wahoo Suze
    Mar 17, 2011 @ 13:42:22

    I don’t think the agency thing is necessarily a bad concept. I think booksellers could do well earning a commission, like a consignment store or real estate agent. (Granted, I’m basing this on assumptions rather than actual facts.)

    What I object to is the prices they’re charging, and the seemingly arbitrary refusal to sell to non-US customers.

    And I absolutely cannot fathom why consumers who object to being charged $14 for an e-book version of a $7 paperback are being dismissed as whiners.

    I’m very sad about the death of spelling and grammar. I think the way people learn how to properly string words together is to read them properly strung together, over and over again. The more errors that are published, the more people read examples of the wrongness, the less they learn how to write.

    I have a favourite author who writes very engaging romances, and her writing is technically pretty good. However, in two separate books, she’s written “I’d just assume” when she meant “I’d just as soon.” It drives me mental. (Like, I’d just as soon we watch a movie as go dancing.)

    I don’t know the answer. There needs to be some gatekeeping, and there DEFINITELY needs to be editing. Freelance editors who become a trusted, marketable brand in exchange for royalties? Self-published author collectives?

    I think, too, that a lot of the argument around proper pricing is caused by the impenetrable murkiness of the actual financial side of publishing. My vague understanding is that publishers don’t price books based on the cost of the book, or even reliably know how much money a given book may make. It’s all a juggling act of money-losing books and runaway best-sellers covering the losses.

    Bleh. Makes my head hurt.

  24. Patrice
    Mar 17, 2011 @ 14:50:57

    I am finding mistakes in an UF I’m reading now, misspelled or misused words, rogue characters in words/sentences, etc. And mistakes in sufficient quantity to keep throwing me out of an otherwise great story! It makes me think the recession must have really thinned out the copy editing staff at ROC Penguin Group. Sad really.

  25. scooper
    Mar 18, 2011 @ 11:43:13

    I understand that many of the same factors go into making an ebook as do a printed book. However, it doesn’t seem fair to me as a consumer to pay $8 for a book that no longer pays printing staff, paper and ink expenses. Even if the price were only 20% less, showing me there is value to going electronic would be appreciated. Today I noticed a trade sized book on sale for $9.27 while its ebook counterpart was $9.99. How is that right? I feel like the publishing industry is getting over on me and I don’t like it one bit. I don’t begrudge authors and others getting paid for providing my entertainment.

  26. scooper
    Mar 18, 2011 @ 11:52:04

    @DS: I had that happen to me early last year. I had bought ebooks from Samhain and later bought the same two books in mass market format. The mass market books had different titles and the author’s name was different. I sent them back to Amazon and was refunded. I don’t see myself buying this author’s work again strictly because I feel an effort to deceive me was made. Whether that is true or not, or the author’s or publisher’s decision does not matter to me.

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